End of year message from our CEO

by Antonio Zappulla
Friday, 18 December 2020 11:43 GMT

This time last year, none of us could have predicted how much our world would change.

The global COVID-19 pandemic has left a trail of devastation in its wake and uncertainty as to its long-term consequences. This virus has also laid bare existing systemic challenges – from the frailty of our social contract to climate-related risks.

I am hugely proud of the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s work this year. Our focus on combining the power of journalism and the law to protect media freedom, foster more inclusive economies and promote human rights has arguably never been more relevant or needed.

In response to the crisis, we promptly launched the Coronavirus Crisis Reporting Hub, offering journalists around the world real-time mentoring and support. Our Hub offers participants health and crisis reporting skills, fact checking training, live briefings with health and data experts and insights from colleagues reporting at the epicentre of the pandemic.

Our global team of journalists brought you daily news examining the impact of COVID-19 on people, society and the environment. We highlighted how the virus hit workers in some of the world’s lowest-paid sectors, as well as those employed in the informal economy and those living on the fringes of society – from the LGBT+ homeless community, to victims of domestic violence and survivors of trafficking and slavery. We also reported on the implications of the pandemic for climate change and brought you stories on governments ramping up surveillance in the name of public health.

This year, our TrustLaw team stepped up its efforts to provide dedicated pro bono legal support to NGOs and social enterprises, supporting them with business continuity matters so that they could mitigate risks and remain up and running at a time of unprecedented upheaval. From legal health checks to live webinars and the creation of a repository of tailored legal resources, we supported more than 1000 organisations globally.

We continued to implement our flagship initiatives despite travel restrictions. This year’s Trust Conference – our annual human rights forum – went virtual and attracted delegates from more than 90 countries. The conference explored the impact of COVID-19 on matters of media freedom, socio-economic inclusion and digital rights.

We also forged strong new partnerships. To name only a few examples, we teamed up with the Skoll Foundation to drive forward our coverage of socio-economic and racial inclusion and received support from the National Endowment for Democracy to expand our Coronavirus Crisis Reporting Hub to Latin America and francophone Africa. In partnership with the Omidyar Network, we launched The Bigger Picture, a photojournalism series documenting the untold impact of the pandemic on vulnerable communities across the United States and around the world. With support from the US Department of State, a first-time donor of ours, and in partnership with the Samir Kassir Foundation, we started working on an ambitious programme to support independent media in Lebanon.  We also partnered with Refinitiv Charities to train community radio reporters in rural communities in Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania and Namibia, and – thanks to Laudes Foundation and the commitment of other new supporters –  we expanded our efforts to fight slavery by convening policy makers, business leaders, journalists, activists and civil society leaders around Asia and Latin America.

There is much more to come next year.

I would like to sincerely thank all of you who have participated and engaged with our work, supported us, funded us and inspired us. You have helped us achieve more than we thought possible. You have helped us create impact where it matters most.

It is this that will drive us forward to face 2021 with renewed optimism and hope.

Let me take the opportunity to wish all of you the very best for the festive season, and a happier, healthier and better New Year.